MRH Cover

Note: This review is my own opinion, unsolicited, and based purely on my experience as a customer.

I’m generally sad about the state of model railroading magazines. In August of 2006 I started a series of blog posts analyzing what has happened to Model Railroader to make it the raging wad of mediocrity it is today. I grew up loving MR. I have 46 years of MR back-issues in the loft bookcases of my office.

I have 32 years of Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazettes and a few decades of Railroad Model Craftsman. They have ebbed and flowed as well but overall are reading now much as they did many years ago.

I’ve been open to the idea of other model railroading magazines and have subscribed to several. None stood any test of time.

I have something to be happier about.

Joe Fugate and friends started Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine in January of 2009. Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine (hereafter MRH) is published quarterly (bi-monthly in 2010) as a free download in PDF format using many of the rich media extensions available in that format.

I really liked the first issue and I wished them well in the tough world of model railroad publishing but I must admit I said to myself “I bet they threw everything into that first issue and the content will dwindle over the next few issues.”

I got busy with life, work, and other non-modeling pursuits and while I downloaded the 2nd and 3rd issues I did not read them.

This week the 4th quarter issue came out and I started to read it. And read it. And look at it again. It is great. I learned something new, several times. It was fun to read. It is what I think a great model railroading magazine should be.

I double checked by sitting down this morning and reading through all four issues back-to-back. I’m really impressed. I’m really happy I have these issues on my hard drive. It’s exciting to have a new magazine where I’m actually curious what the next issue will bring.

I carefully read Joe’s editorials and articles to see if he actually delineates the secret sauce. In issue #1 he says that it’s the rich media. In another issue he says it’s because he advocates “layout modeling.” I think he’s missed on both. It’s the content. Not only are the articles excellent quality but they have room to breathe. In a medium where megabytes are cheap MRH can allow an article to go long, go deep, have more pictures. Print can’t compete.

MRH Article

I highly recommend Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine.

Go look. It’s free and I feel really confident that you will find it time well spent.

Have you gone yet?

2 Responses to “Review: Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine”

  1. Dan D Sparks Says:

    Spot on! I was surprised to hear that readership of Model Railroader has declined by about 20% over the years. And now this comes along and its free! And the PDF features make it so fun. I don’t know how print magazines can compete now.


  2. Michael Says:

    Nice review – I agree with you on most points. I can certainly relate to your experience of downloading an issue and having never got time to read it! …which is part of the problem for me – the virtual magazine will always be tied to a device and won’t be as convenient. I think the publication is great, but you’ll never see me give up MR (despite it’s ebbs and flows) as it is always available for review.

    In truth, I don’t think they’re the same thing. MRHM and MR are both model railroad themed publications, but only one is a magazine… In my mind it’s an apples and oranges situation.

    @Dandy – Curious about those readership stats? You wouldn’t happen to have a source would you? I would question if the decline in readership is related to the magazine, or the hobby in general?

    Thanks again for a great article.